“Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason
for your hope, but do it
with gentleness and reverence.”
1 Peter 3:15–16
The Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization is an academic degree to equip laypersons and others to fulfill the call of Vatican II: to bring the beauty of the Gospel to the fields of work, culture, and family.
During his landmark visit to Poland in 1979, Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed, “A new evangelization has begun.” The pontiff’s words, rooted in the Second Vatican Council’s renewed emphasis on the work of evangelization, would echo and reecho in years to come, leading Pope Benedict XVI to declare in 2013 a “Year of Faith” focusing on the “New Evangelization” – an outreach to baptized Catholics who have fallen away from the faith and a heightened commitment to proclaiming the beauty of the gospel to an increasingly secularized world.
In response to the calls of recent popes to engage in the work of new evangelization, the Theological Institute at Saint John’s Seminary offers laypeople, deacons, and religious the opportunity to pursue a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree with a concentration on this important apostolate.
The MTS relies upon the four pillars of formation that Saint John’s Seminary provides to seminarians and, through the Theological Institute, to lay people, deacons, and religious: academic, human, spiritual, and apostolic.
Academic Formation- 11 core courses and 2 electives
Human Formation- Formation Colloquium and Evangelizing the Culture Requirement
Spiritual Formation- Retreats
As is typical of an M.T.S. degree, the Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization is an academic degree designed to expose students to the broad parameters of Catholic theology while enabling them to focus on a particular topic that is of interest to them. This degree is ideal for men and women working in other professions who seek to augment their primary skill set with a grounding in theology so as to more effectively evangelize the fields of culture, work, politics and family. It might also serve as a stepping stone to doctoral studies, or as a means of preparation for persons interested in working in Catholic educational institutions, diocesan offices or non-profit organizations.
The M.T.S., unlike the M.A.M. degree, does not prepare men and women for pastoral ministry in the Church. However, like the M.A.M. degree, the M.T.S. for the New Evangelization seeks to provide students with a well-rounded, “whole person” Catholic formation in the intellectual, apostolic, spiritual, and human spheres. Indeed, this is what makes the Theological Institute’s M.T.S. degree unique among other M.T.S. programs. The work of evangelization is not simply a matter of engaging the intellect; hence the need for men and women who undertake this work to be prayerful, balanced, and capable of engaging the heart as well as the head. A contemporary evangelizer must be equally dedicated to both halves of the injunction which is set forth in 1 Peter 3:15–16: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”
Spiritual formation for M.T.S. students takes place through retreats, individual spiritual direction, communal prayer, and exposure to classic Catholic spirituality. Participation in the Evangelizing the Culture requirement, through which students undertake some form of internship in a Catholic institution to develop the practical skills of evangelization, promotes apostolic formation. Human formation takes place through workshops and exposure to sound psychological principles that promote greater maturity, prudence, and capacity for self-gift.
The academic program of the Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization provides a comprehensive exploration of the truths of the Catholic faith. In addition to the Formation Colloquium, the M.T.S. degree requires thirteen courses — comprised of eleven core courses and two electives. Philosophy, Scripture, the Church Fathers, and Saint Thomas Aquinas will serve as touchstones throughout the sequence of M.T.S. courses. An M.T.S. student can complete the degree in two years if s/he attends full-time. A student may also fulfill the degree requirements over a longer period of time, attending courses part-time.
Students must complete, as a prerequisite, the Catechetical Certificate Program, which Saint John’s Seminary offers. This program offers an overview of the teachings of the Catholic faith from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Students may, should they prefer, complete the Certificate Program during their first year of study in the M.T.S. program. Lastly, students must either submit to comprehensive examinations or successfully defend a Master’s thesis prior to the completion of their degree.
The required courses for the M.T.S. program are listed below. All M.T.S. students meet with the Theological Institute’s academic advisor to determine the actual order and sequence of course completion, which ensures that students fulfill the intellectual expectations of the M.T.S. Program.
A typical full-time M.T.S. schedule would appear as follows:
Year One- Fall Semester
TH500 Fundamental Theology
OT500 Old Testament
PH500 Faith and Reason
FC100 Formation Colloquium
Year Two- Fall Semester
MT500 Moral Theology
THPT500 New Evangelization/Pastoral Theology
FC300 Formation Colloquium
Year One- Spring Semester
NT500 New Testament
CH500 Church History
FC200 Formation Colloquium
Year Two- Spring Semester
ST500 Liturgy and Sacraments
TH514 Theological Anthropology
FC400 Formation Colloquium
The keystone of the M.T.S. formation program is the monthly Formation Colloquium. The multi-faceted formation of the Colloquium seeks to integrate the four dimensions of formation and exposes students to a wide range of theological, philosophical, literary, artistic, psychological, and apostolic concepts through reading, discussion, and lecture. The Formation Colloquium meets nine times each year for two years. Students interested in the Formation Colloquium, who are not part of the M.T.S. program, may register for either or both years of the Colloquium. Saint John’s Seminary, however, does not permit students to audit the Colloquium.